Reflections on start-up life: Week 46

Deep breath.

What a week. Every now and again I have a week like this one just gone where I think, wow, that’s some kind of turning point.

  • We launched Distlr
  • We signed World Vision Australia as a client for Tribalytic for 12 months.
  • We had another major client in our pipeline come back and confirm they want to sign up this week.

We are getting a better (more realistic) handle now on our pipeline — most importantly we are beginning to understand how long it takes to close a deal. Despite being “Software as a Service” offering, Tribalytic is clearly an enterprise sales problem.

I remember saying to someone early on that pre-revenue is like skiing downhill, you’re flying and having fun. Then when you make your first sale, it suddenly quantifies just HOW far down the hill you’ve come. We are clawing our way back up that hill and are very close to cresting it now.

On to Distlr (previously known as Project X)! We set ourself a goal to try and promote and launch Distlr with the AFL Grand Final replay. It was a huge effort, but we got there. Shipping product is about the hardest thing you can do. We could of sat back, polished it more, been more cautious or any number of things, but we’d just be wasting time. There was enough product to learn some lessons and we have.

What did the Distlr launch teach us?

  1. There’s some interest out there. With what was really quite a poor PR campaign (mostly because we left it until 2 hours before which was when we were sure we’d actually have a product!), we managed to get 70 registered users and some 300+ observers. 24 hours later, people were still using it to watch the #aflgf.
  2. People who do use it get much more engaged with an event.
  3. There are still several features we are missing to really nail the client experience we want.
  4. It didn’t teach us this, but Internet Explorer sucks (cross browser support for Firefox / Chrome designed in, picked up Safari (and iPhone / iPad without even testing on it) then Alex spent several hours debugging IE specific issues).

We had a very early business development meeting for Distlr — yes, there is a potential business model behind it, but I’ll keep that under my hat for the moment. Suffice to say it went well and we have a follow up meeting already which is great.

On the lighter side, now we have a little bit of cash in the bank, we have to decide how to spend it. It’s not that much yet, but here’s a few things we could do with it.

Alex and I have already had a brief discussion about a new monitor and chair for him, something he’s hesitant to spend money on. From my perspective if we can get him a better development environment (a fast desktop PC with a decent monitor so he can test offline and a chair to keep him comfortable) that ~$2,000 is a significant investment in our core production capacity. If he’s even 15% more effective, that’s an extra months programming a year! Yup, I’m a slave driver :-)

With Daylight Savings started now, Alex and I are now three hours apart instead of two, so that’s something else that’s changing — at least it’s still not too bad.


  • The adrenaline rush of the deadline and getting Distlr out the door.
  • Signing World Vision
  • Another customer confirming they want to buy
  • Distlr business development meetings.
  • Meeting Doris after a months absence — I really enjoy these sessions with her. Having someone know your business but sit outside it is really useful.

Lessons Learned

  • Need to get our Credit Card payments sorted out. We had to get our startup friends Event Arc to help us out as we couldn’t process the money from World Vision at the speed they wanted to pay.
  • New shiny things are really distracting. But sometimes it’s worth it — I feel that we took a risk on the Distlr idea, but it also really re-invigorated us, gave us new ideas, taught us some new things and has shown another way forward which was interesting.

Goal this week — Engineering

  • Push the latest release of Tribalytic
  • Refactor Distlr

Goal this week — Customers

  • Sign new client
  • Shake up the pipeline
  • Review Distlr with people who used it (Survey most likely).